I am not one to catch FDFS regularly. But I did break that mould when I caught Sarkar Raj today. Its a sequel to the 2005 blockbuster Sarkar and sees the the three AB’s – Amitabh, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan, together on the screen for the first time (in a full-length movie i.e. Kajraare is not to be counted!) It is directed by Ram Gopal Varma, whom we’d taken to be a spent force and done n’ dusted post movies such as Aag and Darling. But after seeing Sarkar Raj, RGV is back at the exalted position of a master film-maker and an exceptional story-teller. Sarkar Raj has the RGV stamp all over it. The story-telling, the taut screenplay, the gripping sequences, the eerie silences, the cacophonic beats as a revelation is unearthed, the dark n’ sombre look, lighting effects….all of them have the RGV mark.
The crux of the movie can be encompassed in a dialogue one of the character speaks: “agar Abhimanyu chakravyuh tak nahin aasakta, toh chakravyuh Abhimanyu ke paas lena padega!” (If Abhimanyu can’t come near the chakravyuh, let’s take the chakravyuh to Abhimanyu!). Story, in short, is of the Nagres – Subhash (Amitabh) & his son Shankar (Abhishek) and how a proposal of an Electric Plant brought forward by Anita (Aishwarya), the CEO of an MNC, engulfs them and threatens their very dominance. Senior Nagre is against the project but Shankar foresees a greater good in it and decides to implement it no matter what. He convinces his father, who in turn convinces the patriarch of the villages which would be displaced by the project. But there looms a greater conspiracy within and Shankar finds things going against him but still, he abides by his beliefs and continues relentlessly. Affected by betrayals and volte-faces all along the way, and hit hard by two very dramatic turns of events, Sarkar emerges wounded but still with his sense of powers intact. The movie culminates in almost similar fashion as its prequel – revenge and (probable) unveiling of a successor.
Peformance-wise, both Amitabh and Abhishek deliver great performances. The scenes where both are there are almost like one-on-one competitions and both come out the best. We all know what an actor Amitabh is. In Sarkar Raj, Abhishek proves that he too has got the genes. Subtle yet menacing, he carries over from where he left off in Sarkar. Aishwarya is ok. She has few crying scenes which I think she’s not too good at! And like in most RGV movies, the supporting cast too deliver bravura performances. Govind Namdeo & Sayaji Shinde are the new villains and the former has a meatier role than the latter. Ravi Kale (baldy Chander from Sarkar), Upender Limaye ( the police officer from Page 3), Dilip Prabhavalkar (Bapu from Lage Raho Munnabhai) all have important roles and they deliver well. Victor Banerjee, Tanishaa and Supriya Pathak have only few scenes.
The movie is visually very slick. It has a sepia-ish tone for most of the time and the lightings in every scene stand out prominently. Something the cinematography department have excelled at – maybe under RGV’s expert guidance. There are just three songs, all background: Jhini Jhini – picturized on Ash, Jalte Ravan – with the raging conflict as the backdrop & Trishna – with an emotional undercurrent. The older background scores – Govinda Govinda & Saam, dhaam ,dand, bhed recur here and are very prominent. Somewhat too much prominent and overbearing and times! I felt the climax was a letdown, considering the latter half had bulk of the story and happenings. The practicing doesn’t match up to the preaching in the end and though it can be put down to revenge, it does come across as something very obvious. There should have been a self-explanatory ending as opposed to a long narrative which uncovers the plots and sub-plots and counter-sub-plots! A little too much, IMO.
I was just discussing this with some friends and was asked to rank it amongst other RGV works. IMHO: It ranks fifth after Rangeela, Shiva, Satya, Sarkar & Bhoot.